What is the advice you would give your younger self starting a business, after being on the business rollercoaster for many years? I’ve been in business since the end of 2018, after quitting my full-time job.
I applied for an internship at a digital agency to be a front-end developer and website designer, and after being told I would be better in a customer-facing role (any other women get this advice?), I started my own business. So, this is what I’d advise anyone thinking of starting a new business today…
This sounds obvious, but when your starting something new you get caught up in comparison, imposter syndrome, and perfectionism so much that you find it hard to start your new business and career.
You think you are not prepared enough to start, or that what you’ll do won’t be good enough. If you’re thinking this, I’ll let you in on a secret… I was the exact same when I started my business.
The positive I take from my past self thinking this way is that it shows a great amount of integrity. It shows that you want to make a great product, service, or offer for your customers. Which is never a bad thing!
Don’t let these thoughts stop you from taking steps toward the life and career you pictured for yourself. Only you are capable of bringing to life the unique things your dreaming of.
My business wasn’t always as stright forward as it sounds. I was asked by friends and family to build websites when I finished studying. I had the eduction but limited experience, so I just started.
Get clear on what services you offer clients
When it comes to website designers people hear internet, computer, website, and digital marketing. So the enquiries I recieved when I first started my business (and still occasionally now), range from can you fix my email spam filter, to can you help me with my Instagram marketing?
So by now, you’re probably understanding what I mean by get clear. If you don’t have a list of services and clear pricing on your website or a simple pdf to share with your audience, then people will see you as anything they want, or need help with.
I have two clear services on my website and then provide free advice via my blog and e-book to help my audience further.
I also have on hand a list of wonderful people who can assist my clients with tasks that are outside of my services. It’s a great way of sharing work with other small business owners in your community and giving you the time to focus on what you enjoy.
Remember, when you take on work that isn’t what you love or even know how to do, the more it takes you away from the work you actually enjoy. Which sucks, and you end up doing tasks that don’t light you up, nor motivate you to work on more projects in your business.
Be mindful of your thoughts
This is something I invested in, and I highly recommend you do the same. In my second year of business I hired a mindset coach and she changed how I view thing and gave me tools to improve my mindset. Mindset growth is constant when you have a business; if you think your good enough, do you deserve to earn a lot of money business and if your friends and family see you market yourself online “what will they think?”. Having a positive viewpoint on all of these things will only help your business grow, because you’re not hindering your business growth and how many people can find you.
Now I can reflect back and say there was a lot of self-doubt and people-pleasing, but at the time I was working as hard as I could the make my business work and not have to go back to an office job I didn’t feel fulfilled in.
These thoughts of self-doubt and people-pleasing meant I would put myself last in my business. I wouldn’t want to invoice my clients until I thought I’d completed the task perfectly and go above and beyond (usually working into the night and not charging for it).
I always wanted my clients to think the best of me, and still do now, but I know that they are happy to pay for my services – in fact they tell me to invoice them and raise my prices! When you find your ideal clients this is what will happen to you.
This doesn’t mean I haven’t had a client not pay an invoice, or try to barter me down *insert eyeroll*, or say that my prices are too high. If this is happening to you at the moment I want you to listen to my advice, because this client is not aligned with you.
I want you to say sternly “This is the price I charge for the work I do. If you do not like this price then you are welcome to find another service provider who will be able to help you.” Do not give excuses or reasons why, just stick to the facts. This kind of response allows others to see your confidence in the products and services you offer.
I don’t want you to be missing out on making money with dreamy clients. I want you enjoying the work you do, while also creating authority and trust for your business with potential clients.
This way of thinking didn’t just come to me one day, I learned this from my awesome mindset coach, Janel Briggs. She has done wonders for how I approach situations with clients who like to bend or break the rules. I highly recommend you do the same, as you’ll notice this new mindset will flow into other areas of your life too!
Invoice regularly, or in stages for large projects
This was something I was told before sending my first invoice. People in the industry shared with me that they struggled to be paid on time. They had built a strategy of 50% pay upfront and 50% once complete, yet still they said some clients didn’t pay until a year later.
This is not unusal. I’ve had to remind clients for months that an invoice hasn’t been paid or the final invoice from a year ago is still outstanding.
I started a payment strategy to request 50% upfront, 25% once the design is complete, and the final 25% when they’re ready to launch. The last payment is still the hardest to paid but at least I’ve reduced the loss by 25%.
This being said, I have become mindful that they may be a small business owner who is working hard and trying to get paid on time themselves.
Know when to let go of the time wasters
I need to tell you a story of the first and only time I had to let go (or fire) a client. What would make me do this? If you’re anything like me, you’re a kind person who attracts lovely clients 99.9% of the time, but sometimes there are some people who take advantage of your kindness, this pep talk is for you. I’ve gone through the pain so you can avoid it.
The client I had to let go seemed like a nice guy at first. He’d had a bit of a rough time getting his first website online and needed a “professional” to help him.
This was the first red flag.
He asked for a quote and soon after sending it to him, he contacted me to barter the price, picking apart my quote to what he was willing to pay, saying that he didn’t need SEO for his website so I should remove it from the quote.
The second red flag.
I was confused why he’d want to cut corners but empathised assuming he was a little short on cash, which is something all new business owners have experience. He was a friend of a friend, so I started to fell obligated to help him out and give him a “mate’s rate”.
When the project commenced, he demands more work from me outside of the quote, but tells me it’s my fault that this work is needed, because I keep getting what he wants wrong, and follows up with that he’s not paying my invoice because of this.
Let’s be clear for a second, I created a quote to his specific requirements, and I gathered the brand styles and breif from him directly to create the website design he wanted. To get his clear instructions wrong is a lie. If this was a romantic relationship the words ‘toxic’ and ‘gaslighting’ would be used.
So, I stick it out because he’s a friend of a friend and we’re sooo close to finishing the website (coded from scratch I must add), but the next invoice is due.
We have a meeting at a local cafe to discuss progress and next steps for his website, everything going well until I raise that the next invoice is due. He gets angry, shouts at me, and says that he’s not paying it.
I very calmy say “you have two options, you pay the invoice and we complete the project. Or I give you the code files and you take the completed work to another developer.”
After many abusive calls and emails harrassing me to do what he wanted (I actually had to block his number to stop him from calling every 5 minutes – no joke). He took his code files and went to another developer to complete his website. To this day I have no idea if his website ever went live, but the awkward catch up with our mutal friend afterwards was not worth it.
So please learn from my lessons, look out for the reg flags like:
Bartering your quote at the start of a project, because they will do this throughout the project and will most likely not pay your invoices
Don’t respect your boundaries or the contract where you’ve clearly outlined what’s included in the project
Say you’re the problem, even though you’ve had many clients who have love your services and recommended you to others. It’s not you, it’s them. Break up with them!
They will waste your precious time and amazing skills, and make your work no longer enjoyable. Instead, you could be focusing on attracting new clients who value your services, who are excited to work with you, and who appreciate all the details you put in.
Say “see ya later” to the time wasters, and “hello” to your beautiful audience!
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and my advice has helped you with your business journey. It can be hard building a business, but I know you’ve got something really beautiful to share!
If you need any help creating a beautiful website for your business, I have a custom service called A Brand Worth Sharing that will help your business grow online.
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